Animoca Bans Russian Users; Revolut CEO Condemns War, Matches Donations

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Source: Twitter/@IAPonomarenko


Animoca Brands, a digital entertainment company that develops and publishes a wide portfolio of blockchain games, traditional games, and other products, has banned all Russian customers from its services in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The crypto company is ostensibly the first to issue a blanket ban on all Russian users, Bloomberg reported.

“The legal advice we’ve been receiving is we now have to impose some restrictions,” Yat Siu, co-founder of Animoca, said. “It’s a sanctioned country on par with North Korea. The moment we end up doing business in those areas, we might ourselves become financially excluded from the financial system.”

Prior to this, major crypto exchanges had said they would not ban all Russian users even after Mykhailo Fedorov, vice prime minister of Ukraine, urged crypto platforms to block the addresses of Russian users.

“At this time, we will not institute a blanket ban on all Coinbase transactions involving Russian addresses,” a Coinbase was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Likewise, Binance, the largest crypto exchange by market capitalization, has said that they have no intentions of banning all Russian users, which might also include millions of innocent users who are against the war in Ukraine.

“Crypto is meant to provide greater financial freedom for people across the globe. To unilaterally decide to ban people’s access to their crypto would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists,” a Binance spokesperson was quoted by CNBC as saying.

Jesse Powell, co-founder and CEO of Kraken, has also said that the exchange cannot ban the accounts of Russian clients “without a legal requirement to do so,” but arguing that “such a requirement could be imminent.”

Meanwhile, in a personal letter, Nik Storonsky, CEO of Revolut, a British financial technology company, called the war between Russia and Ukraine “horrifying.”

Storonsky, who is now a British citizen, came from Russia and is also of Ukrainian descent since his father was from Ukraine. He said he has family and friends throughout Ukraine, as well as Russia, which is why he believes “Ukrainians and Russians are kin.”

“This war is wrong and totally abhorrent,” he said. “I am horrified and appalled at its impact, and I add my voice to those around the world calling for an immediate end to the fighting, and a commitment to diplomatic solutions.”

To help support Ukrainians, Revolut had opened instant, fee-free donations, enabling its customers from the UK, Lithuania, Ireland, Poland, Switzerland, Portugal, Austria, Bulgaria, and Singapore to raise funds for the Ukrainian people.

“Our customers donated more than [GBP] 1 million [USD 1.3m] within 24 hours,” Storonsky said, adding that they aim to further bolster their fundraising efforts by matching every donation made to the Red Cross Ukraine appeal.

In other words, Revolut would donate the same amount a company’s customer donates for seven days, up to EUR 1.5m (USD 1.66m).

Meanwhile, as per the latest updates by crypto research firm Elliptic, the Ukrainian government and organizations providing support to the military have cumulatively raised USD 35m worth of crypto donations so far.


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